Crime rate in Blackpool soars and police resources dwindle

Fylde and Wyre saw the overall crime rate increase by 12.1 and 9.6 per cent respectively
Fylde and Wyre saw the overall crime rate increase by 12.1 and 9.6 per cent respectively
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Crime has soared by more than 16 per cent in Blackpool in the last year, the latest figures reveal.

It is one of the steepest increases in lawlessness seen across Lancashire, with the rise across the county standing at 13.4 per cent.

Domestic burglaries in Blackpool are up 58%

Domestic burglaries in Blackpool are up 58%

And some individual crimes have seen even sharper rises, with domestic burglaries in Blackpool up 58 per cent to almost three a day.

Wyre saw a 43 per cent rise in the same category, while there was a 27 per cent rise in low-level violent crime in Fylde.

Fylde and Wyre saw the overall crime rate increase by 12.1 and 9.6 per cent respectively.

The figures prompted both Lancashire’s police and crime commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, and the county’s Police Federation to warn about the increasing demands now being placed on a shrinking police force.

David Leslie

David Leslie

Mr Grunsahw said: “Our officers continue to do more with less.”

But the figures come in stark contrast to the Government’s own statistics which continue to show falling crime rates across the country as a whole.

In total 115,775 crimes were recorded by Lancashire Police in the 12 months up to the end of September – almost 13,700 up on the previous year.

Some types of offence like robbery, violence, sex offences and stalking and harassment all rose by more than 20 per cent.

And only two categories of crime - drug offences and bicycle theft - actually showed a fall across the county.

The numbers are against a background of wholesale police cuts forced on the county by central government austerity measures.

Lancashire has lost more than 800 police officers and a further 500 police staff since the economies in funding were introduced.

Mr Grunshaw said the latest statistics showed ‘the increasing levels of demand that our officers are dealing with, as the number of recorded crimes continues to rise’.

And Rachel Baines, chairman of the county’s police union, added: “This worrying rise in crime will only add to this pressure.”

Blackpool continues to experience more crime than anywhere else in Lancashire, with 20.341 incidents recorded during the year – a 16.3 per cent increase.

Preston had the second highest crime rate, with just short of 15,000 offences logged by police.

But it was South Ribble that saw the biggest year-on-year rise, with crimes going up 28.7 per cent to 6,180 for the year.

Officials from the Office of National Statistics, which published the figures, were quick to point out the numbers were only those crimes recorded by police forces in the UK.

Their own statistics, compiled for the annual Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), have shown a continuing fall since the 1990s, they said.

“Police recorded crime statistics must be interpreted with caution,” said the ONS report.

“The police can only record crimes that are brought to their attention and for many types of offence these data cannot provide a reliable measure of levels or trends.”

And they attempted to allay fears of a new crime wave by stressing: “Crime is not a common experience for most people, with eight in 10 adults surveyed by the CSEW not being a victim of any of the crimes asked about in the survey.”

Lancashire Police’s statistics showed that of the 115,775 crimes recorded in 2015/16, almost 35,000 were for violence against the person, a 20 per cent rise year on year.

Areas with biggest rise

South Ribble – + 28.7% (6,180)

Chorley – + 17.7% (6,590)

Blackpool – +16.3% (20,341)

Preston – 14.4% (14,936)

Ribble Valley – +14.3% (2,266)

Burnley – +13.4% (9,786)

Rossendale – +12.5% (4,304)

Fylde – +12.1% (3,816)

Pendle – +10.6% (6,175)

Blackburn with Darwen – +10.4% (12,787)

Lancaster – +10.2% (10,414)

Wyre – +9.6% (5,947)

West Lancashire – +9.5% (5,431)

Hyndburn – +7.6% (6,802)

Working round the clock

Lancashire police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: “The latest statistics released by the ONS have shown again the increasing levels of demand that our officers are dealing with, as the number of recorded crimes continues to rise.

“It also highlights that victims of previously ‘hidden’ crimes such as sexual assault are increasingly coming forward, which means more people impacted by this and all other forms of crime are accessing the specialist support available through Lancashire Victims Service.

“Lancashire Police work around the clock to protect those who live and work here, in the face of what is a growing and increasingly complex demand on the service.

“Our officers continue to do more with less and the recent budget settlement, which saw no additional money from Government for policing in Lancashire, failed to address the increasing pressures on the service here and across the country, which are clear to see in these figures.”

More burglars targeting homes

Increasingly burglars on the Fylde coast are targeting homes rather than other properties, such as businesses.

Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre all saw rises in domestic burglary and falls in non-domestic burglary.

Only Fylde saw the overall burglary rate fall.

Career criminal Ian McDuff, then 50, formerly of Upper Westby Street, was jailed last year for a string of burglaries.

In one home, he was confronted by retired rugby referee David Leslie and his wife Barbara.

Mrs Leslie said at the time: “It hit me after that when we launched at him he could have had a weapon on him, and we were just getting stuck in there. We keep the front door locked now.”

Blackpool the worst for robberies

Robberies in Blackpool were up more than 31 per cent over the year.

There were 229 such incidents recorded in the resort – more than anywhere else in Lancashire.

A young mum, who asked not to be name, told how she was too scared to return to her home after being held captive while raiders ransacked their Banks Street home, in North Shore.

She said of the ordeal, which happened on August 23 last year: “It’s ruined my daughter’s start in life. It’s going to scar her.”